Response to Scottish Mental Health Strategy announcement

30 March 2017

Today Maureen Watt, Mental Health Minister for the Scottish Government, outlined a new ten year mental health strategy.

Lee Knifton, Head of Scotland comments:

As the leading national public mental health organisation, we welcome this long term commitment to mental health and wellbeing. We also value the fact that the Scottish Government listened to concerns that we, and other civil society organisation raised, and that they have significantly revised the strategy.

There is much to welcome in the changed strategy, including the strengthened focus upon prevention and early intervention amongst children, families, young people and adults. It was promising to see a commitment to ensuring parity between physical and mental health, including reducing the mortality gap experienced by people with long term mental health conditions

The acknowledgement that we need to address mental health inequalities including for disadvantaged groups such as those in the justice system and young people who experience care was also good to see, as was the recognition that poverty is the single biggest factor affecting mental health. We also welcome:

  • The acknowledgement that mental health is a human rights issue and we have worked as a management partner of See Me Scotland to ensure that the right to a discrimination free life is understood by all
  • The commitment to a Human Rights Approach based upon PANEL principles – and we look forward to helping deliver upon this as a lead managing partner in the national See Me campaign
  • A greater acknowledgement that we need to address mental health inequalities including for disadvantaged groups such as those in the justice system and young people who experience care
  • The recognition that poverty is the single biggest factor affecting mental health - including citing our report on poverty and mental health for JRF
  • The commitment to delivering a separate Children and Young people’s strategy with further consultation
  • The recruitment of 800 new staff offering support across primary care, justice settings
  • Reform of employment support and welfare processes, based upon new Scottish powers, to return dignity in work and social support to those at most risk.
  • The Ministers agreement for stronger accountability and evaluation of process and impact, annual reporting to Parliament on progress, and for the development of a bi-annual stakeholder forum.

However we retain some specific concerns that we will continue to press for within the implementation plans including:

  • A greater focus upon some of the most excluded groups in society who experience the greatest disadvantage and discrimination, such as asylum seekers and refugees, who we place at the centre of our work.
  • Clarity upon the relationships between local joint integrated boards and the Scottish Government in terms of: resources, responsibility and working arrangements
  • More detail about how non health departments will take account of the mental health agenda for prevention
  • The need for better research and evaluation of this strategy including via participatory research